Saturday, August 27, 2011

cd review: eric church's "chief"

Tonight I will be at the Y’allapalooza concert at Sandstone (so if you’re reading this and will be there, look me up.)

Until then, another long overdue cd review, for tonight’s main act: Eric Church.

Artist: Eric Church
CD: “Chief”
11 songs, 41 minutes (approximately)

1. “Creepin”. Not the song I would have led the cd off with. It starts extremely slow and sounds kind of, well, creepy. Once you get through the opening 30, 45 seconds though, it starts to grow on you, and the chorus explodes with energy, to its credit. Still, this song won’t be on any regular playlist I put together.

Best line(s): “Since the day you left me baby, I can feel the lonely,
I can hear the crazy, just a creepin’ creepin’.”

Grade: C+. We’re not off to a great start here.

2. “Drink in my Hand”. I LOVE, and I mean LO-YUVE, this song. It sounds so much like Neal McCoy’s “Wink”, and damn if it don’t deliver. From the moment this song gets underway, it drags you in, and by the time you hit the chorus, you’re raising a beer and singing right along. Outstanding track. Outstanding.

Best line(s): “You make me wanna go ooh ooh ooh
When you dance like that,
You’ve got that little tattoo
Playing peeky boo on your back.
If you want to impress me,
Honey here’s my plan –
All you have to do is
Put a drink in my hand.

Fill it up, or throw it down,
When you drive me home, take the long way around.
You be my Lois Lane, honey I’ll be your Superman --
All you have to do is put a drink in my hand.”

Grade: A+. This might be my favorite song he’s ever done, and I am fully aware “Sinners Like Me” is my ringtone.

3. “Keep On”. Speaking of sounding like a legendary country song, this song definitely sounds like the music to “Fancy”. Which is cool – if you’re going to channel a song for inspiration, you can do a helluva lot worse than Reba McIntyre. I liked this track. A nice, quick little tune (the shortest track on the cd), and it moves along quite nicely.

Best line(s): the final verse:
“Yeah I love the way the sun’s coming through today
And bouncin’ off the small of your back.
Yeah I know if I call in sick today,
The boss’ll have a heart attack.
Yeah I knew it was over when she rolled over,
And said baby why don’t you stay.
And keep on, keep on, keep on, keep on,
Lookin’ at me that way”

Grade: A-. This is the track that I have a feeling is going to grow on me, much like “Two Pink Lines” off his previous cd did.

4. “Like Jesus Does”. Oh goodie. Well, let’s do this. It opens very slow and painfully, so at least it opens like a Mass. I gotta admit, at the halfway point, I don’t hate this song nearly as much as I thought I would based on the title and the opening. It’s a decent slow song. And thankfully, has little to nothing to do with a certain failed ideology.

Best line(s): “Always thought she’d give up on me one day,
Wash her hands of me, leave me staring down some runway,
But I thank God each night, and twice on Sunday,
That she loves me like Jesus does.”

Grade: B. Far better than I expected it to be.

5. “Hungover and Hard Up”. Hey, the anthem of my life! Just kidding*. Unlike the prior track, this one started out with promise, and its tanking fast. I don’t particularly care for the sound. I don’t particularly care for the pace. And the lyrics really don’t draw you in.

(*: seriously, I do not get hangovers. I could be pounding it until 2 in the morning, and be wide awake and ready to go by 7. It scares me too sometimes.)

Best line(s): “Yeah the bottle in my hand is loaded,
And I’m afraid to use it tonight”.

Grade: C. A perfectly mediocre effort that I will probably never listen to again.

6. “Homeboy”. This was the first release off this cd, and man, is this song good. I know I tend to favor more up-tempo, high-energy songs, but this song is a perfect slow paced, strung out effort. It also helps that I love the lyrics to this one too.

Here’s what Mr. Church had to say about this track, and damned if it isn’t pretty much exactly what I think about it: “This song is about a man urged to consider the phrase “home, boy”. What was really interesting about that was it was about a journey that started in one place, and ends in a totally different place. What tied the whole song together was the chorus. I love writing a song where you’re in the middle of it and say “what now?”

Best line(s): “You can’t hold back the hands of time,
Mama’s going grey and so is daddy’s mind.
I wish you’d come on back and make it alright,
Before they’re called home … boy.”

Grade: A+.

7. “Country Music Jesus”. Oh goodie, another one. Hopefully this one surprised me in a positive way like track four did. And you know what? It did. Anytime you can use religious imagery to make a completely non-religious point, I’m cool with that. I really liked this track once it got going. Really fun track.

Best line(s): “We need a second coming worse than bad.
Some long haired hippie priest,
Preaching from the book of Johnny Cash.
A sheep among the wolves there standing tall –
We need a country music Jesus
To come and save us all”.

Grade: A-. A really fun track once it gets going.

8. “Jack Daniels”. Ooh, now this, on the basis of the title, has potential! (Although it won’t be my favorite track based on title track potential. Hang in there, we’re almost there, and I can tell you, said hopeful favorite track did wind up being my favorite.)

At a little over 5 minutes, this is by far and away the longest track on the cd. And you know what? When a song is this fun to listen to, I’m perfectly good with that. The lyrics are sweet. The music goes at just the right pace. This is a fun little track to sit around with a bottle of Jack and the title track to song 10 and have a fun night on the deck.

Best line(s): “Yeah, every Superman has got his kryptonite,
And Jack Daniels kicked my ass again last night.”

Grade: A+.

9. “Springsteen”. Well, let’s see where this goes. For the record, I like Springsteen, but I am not some die-hard, listening to his channel on XM 24/7 type of fan. Oh, and for the record, “Tunnel of Love” is one of the most criminitely underrated cd’s of the last 30 years. Anyways, back to this effort by Eric Church.

I love the opening sound, it totally sounds like the opening to a Springsteen track. And while I think the first verse was better than the second, this song is really good from start to finish. Really good. This actually might be the song that I wind up replaying twenty times before I even realize it, it’s that easy to listen to.

Best line(s): “I was singing to you, you were singing to me.
I was so alive, never been more free.
Fired up my daddy’s lighter, we sang oh whoa whoa,
Stayed out there ‘til they forced us out.
Took the long way to your house,
I can still hear the sound of you sayin’ don’t go.

When I think about you, I think about seventeen.
I think about my old Jeep, I think about the stars in the sky.
Funny how the melody sounds like a memory,
Like a soundtrack to a July Saturday night.
Springsteen.”

Grade: A+. He’s knocking this thing out of the park at this point.

10. “I’m Getting Stoned”. Oh sweet Jesus. Here’s the thing – one reason why I love music from the late 60s / early 70s so much, is because the artists had to be more creative back then to get their point across. Case in point – “Mr. Tamborine Man”. Everyone knows it’s about a junkie needing a fix from his dealer, but you couldn’t just say that back then, so you had to get cute and creative with the wording. This song hearkens back to those days. I absolutely loved this song. It’s incredibly good. Incredibly good.

Best line(s): “Here’s to happy ever after,
And here’s to balls and chains.
And here’s to all us haters,
Of old lovers’ new last names.
And here’s to holding up
And getting right where I belong –
Cause she got a rock,
And I’m getting stoned.”

Grade: A+. I swear, I’m not grading on a liberal curve here, these tracks really are this good.

11. “Over When Its Over”. A fitting title, since it’s the last track on the cd. And this song comes out of nowhere to win you over. It starts extremely slow paced, and then he starts to sing, and it totally draws you in. This is the sleeper track on this cd – he could have a massive hit if he releases this. If not, it’ll wind up like “Love Hurts” off “Light Grenades” by Incubus, the great “could have been”.

Best line(s): “Now it’s over when it’s over,
Ain’t it baby, ain’t it.
Rips you like a dagger,
Can it baby, can it.
Wish we could do it over,
Dammit baby, dammit.
We had it in the air,
But we just couldn’t land it.

It’s the white flag, it’s a stop sign.
It’s the last long drag on a Marlboro Light.
It’s a long night, beating up the past,
Now when the first lie is gonna hit you back,
This ain’t no gone for drill,
Or no goodbye for tomorrow. It’s over.”

Grade: A+.

Final thought(s): as much as I loved Matt Nathanson’s new cd, and I really dug Ben Harper’s (still to be reviewed) … this one has emerged as the frontrunner for my favorite download of the year. The last six songs all earned their A’s, and 8 of the 11 tracks I gave an A to. No effort earned worse than a C. The worst song on this cd is better than the best on many cd’s I own.

Final verdict: download and enjoy as soon as f*cking possible, the highest designation I can give a musical effort. Preferably on the back deck on a nice summer evening, with an adult beverage, a couple friends, and some green. You won’t regret the 40 minutes spent that way with this cd.

1 comment:

renegade_killerbee said...

I agree. Eric Church completely ripped off Neal McCoy's "Wink" with his "Drink In My Hand"